Thursday, 22 May 2008

'Goodbye to you....'

. It says an awful lot about Labour that it would be an upset if they win Crewe and Nantwich tonight. Things can only get better was Tony Blair's anthem but now the tune has changed with the its 'core vote' bellowing out an angry rendition of Anastasia's Sick and Tired. It is not entirely true that there is nothing that can save Labour now but there is close to nothing that can save it; yes two years is a long time but the tide of public sentiment against it is awfully strong and all flowing in one direction. Progressive steps have been taken but it's all been squandered in a thousand wasteful ways and now Labour is paying a price. Expect a struggle with Brown being an early casualty - the drive to self-preservation is a powerful motivating force and if Crewe goes blue then an awful lot of Labour MP's will be starring anxiously at the size of their majorities.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are marching forwards not just in terms of winning seats in votes but in terms of how they are perceived in the wider public eye. They are a force for change and people think that they would be better; people don't see or follow the voting record of the Conservatives which shows that little has changed about the Party outside the cosmetic. No Clause 4 moment has been forthcoming and Cameron is keeping 'Top of the Pop's' by putting forward as little in terms of concrete policy as is humanly possible while still maintaining a semblance of having a coherent vision for government.

'Nicer', more 'compassionate' Conservatism is a myth spun by Cameron to make his party more electorally palatable. The voting figures expose him as a minority within his own party and while some will scoff and say that a fresh intake will be different it is worth pondering who actually selects Conservative candidates. Is it entirely Central Office or is it the unreconstructed local parties whose dearly cherished beliefs find their most fervent expression in the editorial columns of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph? Expect power when it is eventually won to become a burden to Cameron as he struggles to maintain a tight ship.

So where does that leave us, the Liberal Democrat's. I hope it will leave us in second place in Crewe because if it does that will point the way and it will show that Labour's disaffected core vote is willing to look to us to give them a voice which they have lost during the course of this government. It will also show that our vote is not going to flake off in the Conservatives direction despite their obvious strength and good position to challenge the government.

If we do come second then we have a platform for opposition to a Conservative Party that is now the incoming government. We can turn round to voters and say that we are a strong party of opposition and that they should elect Liberal Democrat MP's if they do want that government held to account and that they want a voice for social justice against a party which flies it as a flag of convenience.


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